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Preemptive Strike

We are slaves to time, its colors and forms. (

More than 100 Americans have died in Iraq this month. And suicide bombings in Basra Wednesday along with continued battles in Fallujah leave the conflict with no end in sight. Our “war on terror” is not going well, and Congress is holding simultaneous hearings on how much more we’ll have to spend as well as what went wrong. The pre-emptive strike — hailed as an operation of surgical precision — has ended in a quagmire.

In the beginning, it seemed this was the only sane method for removal of a madman. Using force to capture Saddam made sense. Now, we’re committed. Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic announced they’ll withdraw their troops within the next few weeks, and Poland may join suit. Meanwhile, we have close to 135,000 fighting men and women in the region with thousands gearing up for transfer to Iraq.

I don’t know what will happen next, and I don’t have any good advice or words of wisdom. But Jesus — in His introduction of God’s Kingdom — offered us another way.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42

Here is a different kind of preemptive strike. We respond to those who would make us victims by offering more than they require. It seems like foolishness, this loving of enemies and prayer for those who persecute, and it runs counter to my personal concept of equity. But Jesus understood the weight of His words. He called us then and now to a holy revolution. And He made it personal when he instructed us to begin by loving our neighbors.

“Christ didn’t say, ‘Love humanity as thyself,’ but ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and do you know why? Because your neighbor, by definition, is the person nearby, the man sitting next to you in the underground who smells, perhaps, the man next to you in the queue who maybe tries to barge ahead of you, in short, your neighbor is the person who threatens your own liberty.” Luciano De Crescenzo

Your neighbor is the person who threatens your own liberty.

Way of Truth

A flap. A dust-up. A bit of wind. (

I help to cover politics for the newspaper in Nampa. Today, I interviewed a local man, a profile. He seeks a legislative seat. He’s anti-tax and wants to bring more jobs to Canyon County. He spoke of education and construction and the elderly. And while I jotted notes, I thought how similar this sounds to all the rest. Each one defines his character according to accomplishments. Each list — the same — with clubs and causes, offices, endorsements. Individual aspects are accounted relative to others, a blobby shape at best. The only differentiation comes from what’s been done and what’s opposed. We have fences but no foundation.

And what about me? I too am guilty of self-image by comparison. Instead of seeking Christ’s character, I create a rubric for success, assess myself by personal performance and how much better or worse it is than that turned in by others.

This is not the way of truth.

This is not the way of truth.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

A metaphor. Spiritual growth, the discovery of personal purpose, can never come from comparison, one branch to another. I have tried to define my being by what I do. And all this time, I had it backwards.

Pray for change

log on to the Internet late at night to play chess. In between moves, I check my e-mail, read the news, and think. 

It’s quiet here at the end of the day. But peering through computer screen — mystical aperture — brings close the noisy conflict of a war-torn world. 

Hamas vows vengeance. Warnings of a terrorist attack. 127 New York passengers injured when one train bumps another. A boy who died in an oven.

My life seems small.

I pray that God will use what I have, that I might be a harbor of peace and a vessel filled from streams of living water. I pray that I might be a friend to the afflicted, a living message of hope. I know I have no such store of good things for I, too, am impoverished. But I pray.

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you.

And I remember His words: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you.”

I pray for change.

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